Colombia’s Interior Minister denounced a conspiracy to murder right-wing paramilitary fighters in order to protect the country’s political elite.
Minister Carlos Holguin said that the murder of Jamie Andres Angarita last week was part of a "plot" to silence testimony at special tribunals formed to examine human rights atrocities carried out by the paramilitaries and the possible roles government officials had in these events.
"This is a murder that naturally has implications for the process of justice and peace," Holguin told Caracol radio.
There have been at least four other murders in the wake of revelations that members of President Alvaro Uribe’s government (the Bush Administration’s closest ally in the region) have ties to these right-wing death squads.
"The paramilitaries have taken control of a good part of the (Uribe) administration," former President Cesar Gaviria, leader of the opposition Liberal Party, told reporters last month.
In November Colombia’s Supreme Court ordered the arrest of three legislators and former congresswoman for being part of a paramilitary group that massacred a village in 2000. They were all Uribe allies.
Also damaging are allegations that Colombia’s secret police gave information to paramilitaries about union leaders, who were later assassinated. Many analysts believe that these new revelations and investigations could jeopardize the future of U.S. aid to the country for programs such as Plan Colombia, as well as the ratification of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement by U.S. Congress.